Friday, December 18, 2009

The unforgiving minute

One of the things that makes American political discourse almost unworkable today--but nevertheless makes it a great spectator sport if you're so inclined--is contemporary conservatism's complete inability to accommodate irony. Crude sarcasm, yes. But irony--alas, no.

Here's William Bennett on the climate change conference:

It's amazing, you know -- the power of ideology to blind people to reality.

And he says this in the context of claiming that the entire global warming thing is a Marxist plot.

Breathtakingly unself-aware.

Minute's up.


OregonYankee said...

Ah, Bill, the absence of self-awareness is symptomatic of the Left as well as the Right - I would submit more by the former. While isolated verbal inconsistencies can be forgiven for both sides, the absence of intellectual consistency and integrity are more problematic - and more persistent among Liberals. Yes, agreed, also among those who are ideological bigots on both sides; but IMHO more often among "moderate" lefties than Conservatives.

Nothstine said...


Hi, Peter--

We probably agree that all politics rewards almost-unlimited insensitivity. But I think that conservatism, as it stands these days, selects for not-worrying-about-the-other-side far more than liberalism does. I'm thinking more about irony as an ideological feature than a psychological one.

I'd even say that, politically [referring to those in office and with ready media access on both sides], this works much to the advantage of conservatives--at least the ones in the GOP. Liberal Dems too easily imagine "how would I feel if I were in their situation?" and hold their fire as a result. Republicans haven't worried about that question in a generation [which is why the Rs got so much passed in the early 2000's with fewer Senate seats].

It's also why they've been able to hamstring much of the Democratic agenda this year.

By the way, it's a tad late to mention it, but I was sorry to see Rubber Side Down close its shutters [everyone else, go here and browse back numbers. You had a good run (ride?).]